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Glossary of French Property Terms and Vocabulary

Glossary of French Property Terms -Detectimmobilier

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			city with Detectimmobilier.Welcome to Our French Property Terms Glossary Are you navigating the intricate world of French real estate? Our comprehensive glossary of French property terms is your key to understanding the terminology that surrounds buying, selling, or investing in property in France. With clear and concise explanations, we demystify the jargon, making your property transactions simpler and more informed. Whether you're a first-time buyer, a seasoned investor, or a seller looking for clarity, this glossary is your indispensable guide. Explore and empower your real estate journey with us.

Welcome to Our French Property Terms Glossary

Definitive guide to legal process of buying property in France



abonnement - standing charge

acompte - deposit, sum paid in advance

acte authentique - legal paper drawn up by a public officer empowered by law

acte sous seing privé - private agreement in writing with no witnesses

acte de vente - a conveyance or transfer of land

accueil - reception

acquéreur - purchaser

acquérir - to buy

affaire - bargain

agence - agency

agence immobilière - estate agent

agent immobilier - real estate agent

agios - bank charges after an overdraft

alimentation - supply (water, electricity etc.)

aménager - to convert

aménagé - converted

ancien - old

à rénover - to renovate

à restaurer - to restore

arrondissement - administrative district of Paris

artisan carreleur - tiling expert

artisan maçon - builder

ascenseur - lift

Assurance habitation – Household insurance : this insurance is mandatory for any property rented in France, not only for the tenants and also for the owners in the event of a commonhold (it is therefore generally the case for residential property in Paris). It protects the tenant in the event of damage (burglary, water damage, etc).

assurance décès - life insurance

assurance décès, invalidité, incapacité - covers death, invalidity, incapacity

atelier - workshop

attenant - contiguous

attestation d'acquisition - certificate that the property purchase was completed

attestation de propriété - proof of ownership of a property

attribution de juridiction - formal signing of a purchase contract

autorisation de prélèvement automatique - direct debit


bail - lease to tenant : a rental contract under which the landlord undertakes to allow a tenant to enjoy the use of a property in exchange for a previously agreed amount and for a set period of time.

bailleur - landlord

balcon - balcony

banque de consignation - the bank where the notaire places the deposits

bâtiment - building

béton - concrete

bilan (de santé immobilier) - survey (house)

boiserie - woodwork

bon état - good condition

"bon pour achat" - following signature of contract ("good for acquisition")

bord de mer - by the sea

bord de rivière - by the river


cadastre - local town planning register recording details of land-holdings

campagne - country

carrelage - ceramic tiles

carte professionnelle - granted to estate agents to carry out business

carte d'identité - identity card

caution - security deposit/guarantee

Cave - cellar

cellier - store for wine and food

centre commercial - shopping centre

centre des impôts - tax office

certificat d'urbanisme - zoning certificate (equivalent to a local authority search)

cession - transfer of ownership or rights

chai - wine cellar

chambre - bedroom

charges comprises - service charges included

Charges de copropriété – Co-ownership fees : This term covers all the charges and expenses that enable the commonhold to be correctly maintained (maintenance of the common areas, collective services, etc). The joint owners of the commonhold, the co-owners, must pay these fees.

charpentier - carpenter

chartreuse - chartreuse or charterhouse (former religious building)

chasseur immobilier - real estate hunter

château - castle

chantier - building site

chaudière - water heater

chauffage - heating

chauffage collectif - communal or shared heating

chauffe-eau - hot water tank

chaumière - thatched cottage

chaux - lime

chèque - cheque

cheminée - chimney

chêne - oak

clause particulière - special condition

clause pénale - penalty clause governing performance of an agreement

clause suspensive - conditional clause needed for the sale to reach completion

climatisation - air conditioning

cloison - partition

clôture - fence

colombage - half timbering

colombier - dovecote / pigeon house

comble - attic

commission comprise (C/C) - agency commission included

commission non comprise - agency commission not included

communauté - joint estate of a husband and wife

compromis de vente - contract for sale and purchase of land

comptant - cash purchase

compte séquestre - deposit in an escrow account pending certain conditions

compteur - meter for water, gas, electricity

conditions particulières - special conditions

conditions suspensives - conditional terms stated in the pre-sale agreement

conseiller fiscal - tax advisor

conservation des hypothèques - mortgage / land registry

constat d'huissier - factual statement by a bailiff which is irrefutable in court

constructible - land which is designated for building under local planning scheme

construire - to construct

contrat de réservation - the purchase contract used for purchase "on plan"

contrat préliminaire - preliminary contract (see contrat de réservation)

convention - agreement

copropriété - co-ownership

Coup de cœur - Literally a ‘blow of the heart’. This is a french term used to describe a must-see property.

cour - courtyard or yard

couvert - covered

couloir - corridor

crédit immobilier - mortgage

crépi - rendering

cuisine - kitchen

cuisine équipée - fitted kitchen

cuisine meublée - fully equipped kitchen


dallage - paving

dalle - flag stone

date de livraison prévue - expected date of completion

débarras - box room

décennale - 10 year warranty provided by artisan

délabré - dilapidated

Délai de rétractation – Cooling-off period : the period of time during which the purchaser, after having signed the preliminary sales agreement, can withdraw from the purchase without having to justify their decision or pay any compensation to the seller. In France this period is 10 days.

déménagement - moving house

demeure - building, prestigious property

dépendance - outbuilding

dépôt de garantie - deposit paid when renting or buying a property

devis - bill estimate

Diagnostics - The diagnostics are a full survey report of the property which provide information regarding electricity installations, surface area, gas installations, presence and levels of lead, asbestos, termites, and natural and technological risks .

disjoncteur - electric trip switch

Douche à l'italienne - Walk-in shower

droit de passage - right of way

droit de préemption - pre-emptive right to acquire the property instead of purchaser

droit de succession / donation - inheritance / gift tax

droits d'enregistrement - stamp duty paid by the purchaser


éclairage - lighting

écurie - stable

emoluments - the scale of charges of the notaire

encadrement - framing

enregistrement (droits d') - registration of the title of ownership

ensoleillement - in sunshine

entretien - maintenance

équipé - equipped

escalier - stair

espace - space

étage - storey

état des lieux - inventory of fixtures (and conditions) in beginning or end of a lease

évier - kitchen sink

expert comptable - chartered accountant

expert foncier - professional to check on the state and value of the property

Exposition - The position of a property or room in relation to its direction; north, east, south, or west.


fer - iron

ferme - farm

finitions - finishings

FNAIM - national association of estate agents

fonds de roulement - capital supplied by flat-owners to meet unexpected liabilities

fôret - drill bit

fosse septique - septic tank

foyer – fireplace

Frais d’agence – Agency fees : fees to be paid to the estate agency when they find a property for you to rent. Since the Alur law came into force, the amount paid by the tenant is capped and depends on the geographical area in which the property is located (whether demand is much higher than supply, or not). Since April 2017, the agency has an obligation to mention these fees in their adverts.

Frais de notaire - total to be paid to the notaire on top of the sale price


géomètre - surveyor appointed by the notaire to certify the dimensions of the property

gouttière - gutter

grange - barn

grenier - attic


haie - hedge

honoraires - fees

hors taxe (HT) - not including sales tax

huissier - bailiff or process server used to record evidence during legal proceedings

hypothèque - mortgage - where the property is used as security for the loan


indivision - joint-ownership

inter horaire - time switch

interrupteur - switch

Investissement locatif – Buy-to-let : a property that is purchased for the purpose of being rented out.

isolation - insulation


jardin - garden

jouissance - right of possession occurring with the transfer of ownership



lavabo - wash basin

lave-mains - hand basin

laverie - laundry

lingerie - washing room

location - rental

location - renting (tenancy)

logement - accommodation

loi scrivener - protects borrowers from lenders and sellers on property purchases

lotissement – housing estate

"lu et approuvé" - phrase accompanying signature of contract ("read and approved")


maçon - builder

mairie - town hall

maison de campagne - country house

maison de maitre - gentleman's house

mandat de recherche - agreement giving power to estate agent to look for property

manoir - manor house

marchand de biens - property dealer

mazout - heating oil (domestic use)

menuiserie - woodwork factory

meubles - furniture

moquette - carpet

monument historique - listed building

mur - wall


neuf - new

niveau - level

notaire - notary


occupation - occupant of the premises (either tenant or occupant without good title)

offre d'achat /de vente - offer to buy or sell property which is not a binding contract


paiment comptant - cash payment

papier peint - wallpaper

parquet - wood floor

parties communes - common parts of buildings

parties privatives - parts of the building restricted to the private use of the owner

peinture - paint

pelouse - lawn

permis de construire - planning permission

pièce - room

pierre - stone

pilier - pillar

piscine - swimming pool

placard - cabinet

plafond - ceiling

plain-pied - single storey

plâtre - plaster

plomberie - plumbing

plus-value - capital gain realised on the sale of the property

portail - garden gate

poutre - wooden beam

prélèvement - direct debit

prêt immobilier - mortgage

prieuré - priory

prise - electric socket

propriétaire - owner

propriété - property



raccord - connection

radiateur soufflant - fan heater

rénové - renovation

réservation - the deposit paid in a contract de réservation

réservation, contrat de - contract for the purchase of property

Résidence principale – Primary residence : the property that is your home for most of the year.

Résidence secondaire – Secondary residence : any home that is not your primary residence and which you use as a second home on an occasional basis.

résiliation - cancellation of a contract

restauré - renovated


SAFER - national agricultural land agency with pre-emptive rights to buy land

salle de bain - bathroom

salon - living room

SCI (Société Civile Immobilière) – Non-trading property investment company : this is a company contract that enables a minimum of two people to jointly purchase one or several properties with the aim of sharing the profits generated. An SCI presents advantages in terms of estate and inheritance tax planning.

securité sociale - French national health system

séjour - living room

sol - ground

sous-sol - underground / basement

Surface habitable – Habitable surface area : this is the total floor area of the property; it includes all the rooms but excludes the areas occupied by walls and any steps, stairwell or balcony, and any area where the ceiling height is less than 1.8 metres.


T1/T2/T3/F1/F2/F3 : these terms designate furnished or non-furnished accommodation and refer to the number of bedrooms :

TTC - toutes taxes comprise - including sales tax

TVA - taxe sur la valeur ajoutée - value added tax

tantiéme - common areas of a co-propriété owned with other apartment owners

tapis - carpet

taxe d'habitation - rate levied on the occupation of property

taxe fonciére - local tax on the ownership of property

terrain - grounds

testament - a will

toit - roof

tontine - joint ownership

tout a l'égout - main drainage system



VEFA (Vente en l’Etat Futur d’Achèvement) – Sale of property for future completion : a purchase contract used for property under construction or being bought off plan. For this type of sale, the buyer benefits from lower transfer duties as compared to a classic property purchase.

verger - orchard

vestibule - entrance hall

Viager immobilier – Lifetime annuity property purchase : this term designates a sale by which the purchaser undertakes to buy a property from an elderly person (often at a discounted price) by paying them a regular amount in the form of a rent (monthly/quarterly/annually) until their death.

vitre - glass

volet - shutter





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